Eat-ail not retail and ArtsDistrict Hyattsville (maybe it should be eat-ale?)
I wrote about how food concepts are becoming significantly more dominant in retail districts in my recent update, "Updating Richard's Rules for Restaurant-Driven Revitalization." City Block looks at the issue as well "On restaurants, retail, and clustering– agglomeration."
The current issue of The Atlantic Magazine covers retail development trends too, "Death of the Salesmen: Technology's Threat to Retail," plus I forgot to mention the recent Richmond Times-Dispatch "Public Square" program on attracting and retaining millenials, which included discussion of the amenities that people are looking for, including food, "Public Square focuses on attracting millenials."
... while returning a rental car yesterday and putting in gas beforehand, I was amazed at all the people walking along Florida Avenue, between Union Market and the subway station (pictured right).
This was sometime around 3:30 pm on Sunday. This kind of activity, especially young people, would have been unimaginable two years ago.
It's about food and exciting activation and placemaking all wrapped up into one integrated package.
The night before, we briefly checked out the new retail district on Rte. 1 in Hyattsville (sans camera) and it illustrates the point to a t, how retail districts are reshaping towards food.
Mostly food-related uses and minimal retail offerings, besides, the pet store makes most of its money selling upscale pet food.
Except at the scale of the "regional shopping district," it's going to be harder and harder for retail districts at sub-regional scales to offer non-food retail.
And because the night time daypart is dominated by places that offer alcohol, the trade magazine QSR (quick service restaurants) explores the possibility of QSRs adding alcohol offerings, in order to strengthen the ability of such restaurants to compete at night, not unlike how McDonald's added to their coffee offerings to compete with coffee shops for morning business. See "Buying into Booze" and Restaurant Specialty Beverage Programs Extend Menu Options."
And given these trends, it's going to be harder and harder to support all the retail and mixed use development that people want and developers want. There just isn't enough retail business to go around.
The thing about The Atlantic article and I discussed the issue in my Richard's Rules piece, is that it says only 8-9% of total retail commerce is online.
That might be, but at the same time, that might be 9% overall but more than 50% of certain categories like books or music, and making it very difficult for such to be offered as retail at the local scale, except in extraordinary circumstances.
As far as service categories go, it means no travel agencies spread out across local commercial districts. It means less business for the Post Office, and so maybe the USPS wants to close down the branch (note that the National Envelope Company is about to declare bankruptcy because of a precipitous fall off in demand for their products), etc.
Basically eating and high touch services (hair, spa, eyes, pets, etc.) are the retail categories that will survive e-commerce.
Some upcoming blog entries related to this topic are tactical urbanism and retail-placemaking-activation.